All details watching the Virgin Mary, considered a “vessel chosen” for the incarnation of the Son of God, the Good News, birth, life, work messianic, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and stay on the right hand of the Father, all we find precisely mentioned in the writings of the Old Testament prophets hundreds of years before their fulfillment. The Old Testament prophets were the foremost teachers of biblical people who took part in all important events in the history of the Hebrew people, who as representatives of God True, defended and cultivated OT monotheism, thus preparing humanity for the new testament concluded the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Messianic prophecies were aimed at announcing the coming of the Messiah who will achieve salvation of men. They appear with the start of the race. From the first book of the Old Testament, the person sees promised Savior announced as a red thread throughout history until it shows the world as the Son of God.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. It was in the beginning with God “(Genesis 1: 1-2).
Incarnation of the Word, the Logos of God held a necessity: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1 , 14). “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven was and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man” (Creed or Symbol of Faith, art. 2).
The promise, the divine-human person of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, came to the pulling down dominion of the devil through death and resurrection and to save mankind from the fear of death: “So, since babies were made partakers of flesh and blood in the same way and he partook of them, to the pulling down through death him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their life. “(Hebrew 2 14 -15), giving the gospel of the power of salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1: 9, 1, 16).
The purpose of the coming of the Son of God in the world was and is the salvation of man through the redemptive sacrifice on the cross: “For God so loved the world that His Son begotten gave that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that might be saved through him “(John 3: 16-17).
Truly, God’s promise was made at the “fullness of time” as St. Paul says: “And when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of woman, born under the law … As the people under the law to redeem them, that we might receive adoption as sons “(Galatians 4: 4).
All details watching the Virgin Mary, considered a “vessel chosen” for the incarnation of the Son of God, the Good News, birth, life, work messianic, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and stay on the right hand of the Father, all we find precisely mentioned in the writings of the Old Testament prophets hundreds of years before their fulfillment.
Thus, preparing Jews for the coming of the Savior was based on supernatural revelation, or Old Testament Scripture uninterrupted, as says the Apostle Paul: “After God once at many times and in various ways spoke to our fathers by the prophets in the days these last of us spoke to us by his Son … “(Hebrew 1 1- 2).
Fullness of time
Pauline expression “fullness of time” (pleroma tou to chronou) designates the time of the coming Redeemer promised, since that was prophesied in the Old Testament.
It should be noted that since the beginning of the Old Testament, after the fall of the first people, the book notes Genesis God’s promise: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel “(Genesis 3, 15).
Thus, human history is presented to us as a history waiting, as a history of hope, because it is expected Redeemer. The same can be said about the history of Israel, which we see as a history of the promise (Genesis 12, 2-3). Messianic hope will be maintained throughout the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.
Like an Old Testament expression correspondent Pauline (Gal 4: 4), although it is not an expression, we might consider the prophecy in Daniel 9: 24-26. Messiah will be the time when will the vision and prophecy.
Announcement coming of the Messiah, the “fullness of time” fulfillment of prophecy, is the prophetic texts, especially by the so-called prophetic perfect. As is known, the Semites did not report the verb inflexion, action at three times: present, past and future. Indicative mood in Hebrew has two times: perfect and imperfect. Hebrew can be translated perfect perfect compound simple perfect, pluperfect, the future or the present. Simply translates to the future “when the work will accomplish and is considered as accomplished in that time (prophetic perfect).” So we have: life (and exit) (Isaiah 11: 1) Vekaric (and I end) (Ezekiel 37, 26-27) etc.
This future prophetic filled some expressions such beacharit haiomim (in times those last or end of days) (Isaiah 2: 2), and ācharei Ken (afterward) (Joel 3, 1), Baeta (in time ) (Jeremiah 3, 17), Hinna (h) iāmim Baima (is coming) (Jeremiah 33, 14) etc. Some, though seem to refer to the end of the world, apply at the time of arrival of the Messiah.
No future prophetic or expressions, such as those above, starting with some Messianic prophecies do not intend to fix exactly the time the Messiah.
The exception is Daniel’s prophecy (9, 24-26), but here the calculation was done differently. The text is part of the so-called “doomsday” and we know that Jewish apocalyptic operating figures who are given a symbolic value. This, first of all, because it is not given to man to know in advance the times of the economy of salvation (Matthew 24, 36; Mark 13, 32) and, on the other hand God has endowed man with freedom and prepare mankind for this time related to its use (II Peter 3, 12).
If we look at the texts that speak of the coming Messiah and His kingdom, in terms of time, the moments in the history of Israel, in which they were written, we can say that they are very often in connection with moments revocation or adversity they lived Jews.
In moments of crisis in Israel, God intervenes and announces the coming of the Redeemer (for example: the death of Moses, God promises another “Prophet” – Deuteronomy 18, 15-18; prophecies of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel made less before and during the Babylonian captivity, etc.).
Concerning the hope of a restoration of the kingdom of David, this idea appears more prominent during and after the Babylonian captivity.
This can suggest that moral decay and adversity reached its peak could be signs of rapprochement “fullness of time”. On the other hand, some texts let us know, as we shall see, that the Messiah will be prepared by a Forerunner, which would be another “sign” of the coming of the Messiah.
Herod’s palace in Jerusalem
Herod’s palace was used as the residence of the Roman procurators they came to Jerusalem at major Jewish holidays to supervise the crowd who came to the Holy City from all over the country. Citadel southeast of Jerusalem, the place of the police barracks today, Herod’s palace once stood, which since June AD It would become the official residence of Roman procurators when coming from Caesarea to Jerusalem. Here I received Herod the Magi who came to seek the child Jesus (Matthew 2, I-8)
Bethlehem Nativity of Christ
About 720 years before the birth of the Messiah, prophet Micah foresaw where Baby Jesus Christ would be born: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, out of you will come Ruler over Israel, and His Obârşia is from the beginning, from the days of eternity “(5, 1).
Bethlehem, originally called Lahmi Bit (known from 1440 BC), then Beyth Lehem, played to Greek Gospel as Bethlehem, which later ruled Vithleem, from where Vicleim Romanian variants, and others Viflaim encountered in our carols.
Name of the city means “house for cereals” (barn), “house of bread” or “Laham’s temple” (Canaanite god). Name Bethlehem has a symbolic effect of material prosperity (the soil was fertile ground) and symbolic meaning of spiritual blessing. Bethlehem city, although it was the place where King David came (I Kings 16: 2-4), it was quite small and insignificant. In cities did Joshua census shows “Bethlehem Ephratah or” (15, 59) at the Judah. Here is the traditional tomb of Rachel.
Theophylact of Ohrid, however, shows that Bethlehem will become a great city, can not necessarily material, but a spiritual one. Romanian translation of the Septuagint take it, but in some Hebrew manuscripts do not mention anything of Bethlehem. This gave rise to conjecture, that the name of the city had been intentionally deleted from the Hebrew sacred text, to hide the origin of the Davidic Christ.
St. John Chrysostom notes accuracy Micah’s prophecy: “Look how precise are the words of the prophecy! The Prophet n said: We live in Bethlehem, but of thee shall come. So the prophecy says that there shall be born. ” Christ was born not only in a city small, but in a stable, straw (Luke 2: 7) etc., all signs of chenozei – the deşertării of glory Divine – and the humility of the Son of God. It celebrates the birth of Christ in Bethlehem and other prophecies that speak of the Messiah as a descendant of David (Isaiah 11, 1. 10; Jeremiah 23: 5; 33, 15).
This prophecy is cited freely by rabbis who respond to King Herod (Matthew 2: 6), indicating “Bethlehem in the land of Judah” as equivalent to “Beyt-Lehem, Ephratah.” This specification of the prophecy concerning Bethlehem of Judea, is important because there are a Beth Lehem into Galilee, land of Zebulun (Joshua 19, 15). The first one was indeed the birthplace of Jesus (cf. Luke 2, 4. 15; John 7, 41-42).
Bethlehem – between tears, carols and persecution
Today, this town (Bait Lahm), with about 25,000 inhabitants, is under the Palestinian Authority. He was inhabited by Christians in the Byzantine era, then conquered in turn by the Samaritans, Arabs, Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottomans, British, Jordanians, Israelis, and in 1995 it was ceded to the Palestinians.
10 km south of Jerusalem, Bethlehem was a town crossed by caravans to eastern Asia and was always populated by tribes and cultures. Half of the city’s inhabitants are Muslims and half Christians.
The site is today covered in political tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories, being completely surrounded by a concrete wall six meters high. Access is via militarized checkpoints – so-called “check-point”.
For 2,000 years, “the star that has risen” is a place of pilgrimage, prayer, worship and hope. Church of the Nativity is one of the oldest in the world. It is also one of the most sacred places of Christians.
The original church was built during Emperor Constantine the Great, the care of his mother, Empress Helena in 333. In the late sixth century, the church was destroyed. It was rebuilt between the years 527-565, in its current form, the Emperor Justinian the Great.
Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are considered churches Status Quo and therefore are administered by the Franciscan community by Armenian and Greek.
At left is the church of St. Catherine of Alexandria, belonging to Roman Catholics, and on the right is the Milk Grotto Chapel, a tiny chapel where Franciscans serve all remember the Flight to Egypt of the Holy Family. Tradition says that while breastfeeding Infant Holy Virgin Mary dropped a few drops of milk, which immediately changed the whole stone grotto white.
Birthplace of Jesus is marked by a silver star with 14 corners, mounted on a white marble plate. Above is a Latin inscription: “Hic of Virgin Maria Jesus Christus Natus est”, meaning: “Here Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary.”
The church is divided into five ships of four rows of columns in the Corinthian style, a total of 44 columns with a height of 5.5 meters and dates back to the Justinian. Columns are paintings of the Apostles. In the middle of the nave is a Byzantine mosaic, the original floor. Lamps are silver and gold altar.
Entry into the church is through the “door of Humiliation” low height of which obliges every Christian to bend.
It says that the door was changed during the Ottoman invasion to prevent the entry Muslim soldiers riding in the church.
Along with Christian pilgrimage objectives, however, the military presence in those territories controlled by Israel is obvious. On the roofs of many houses are staying soldiers with machine guns guard and military vehicles patrolling the streets almost hourly. Afternoon when vendors Arabs sometimes close their shops in protest against the occupation, Bethlehem appears to be a dead city. The only signs of life are in the city center, Manger market.
What matters prophetic typology is that Bethlehem was the place where he was born and raised David, the shepherd anointed king who was hated death and persecuted many years before being crowned fate that would be and Christ’s fate. Therefore, Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, as the Gospel teaches. Angels and those who gave them the news were the shepherds of Bethlehem.
Steaua was seen and understood only by the Magi. Angels have been seen only by shepherds. Simeon and Anna recognized the infant Jesus only because they were prophets.
Shepherds Field – Beit Sahur
In 384, cape Egeria saw in a valley near Bethlehem “a church that is called” The Shepherd “, with a large garden surrounded by a wall right and also a very beautiful cave sheltering an altar” . And Jerome identifies this field to where “Jacob had pitched his tent beyond the tower tower of Eder” (Genesis 35, 21) and mentions that the tower is at a distance of a thousand paces from Bethlehem to the east .
Initially, a small shrine was built in a natural cave paved with mosaic. By the mid-fifth century, the cave has been expanded significantly to allow construction of a church. Meanwhile, a church was built U-shaped, above the cave.
Soon, any new church has never faced massive tide of pilgrims and therefore the century VI stately church was built with marble columns and mosaic floor decorated with Christian motifs.
The village presents historical sources and ecclesiastical Pastors as the starting point of a ceremony at the Bethlehem Nativity.
In 614, the Persians destroyed the church, but was later rebuilt by the Patriarch Modest.
In 670, Bishop Arculfus French, wandering the Holy Land for nine months, and he mentions that he visited that church, where there are graves of the three shepherds. He mentions that the place is located 1.5 kilometers east of Bethlehem.
After the Arab conquest, the church was used by monks who are needed in the wilderness of Judea. In the tenth century, there was only accessible cave pilgrims.
Currently, Beit Sahur is predominantly Christian, but there are a minority of Muslims come after 1948.
East of Bethlehem, about two kilometers from the urban center, is Shepherds village – Beit Sahur. According to tradition, here is where the angel has confided Nativity shepherds (Luke 2, 8-15).
Star of Bethlehem
Silver star embedded into the stone marks the place where was even seated Christ. Steaua was set in marble in 1717, when Catholics possessed Church of the Nativity. The star is the following inscription in Latin: “Hic of Virgin Maria Jesus Christus Natus Est”, ie: “Here Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary.”
Nativity star has fourteen corners because “all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen; and carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations to Christ “(Matthew 1, 17).
Star Above 15 candles burn ceaselessly, six of the Orthodox, the Armenians and four of five Catholics.
The Magi from the East
The three wise men came to worship the King Christ born in the cave of Bethlehem brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Honoured Gifts are kept at the monastery Athonite St. Paul. According to church tradition, the Virgin kept these gifts and, at his death, he left the church in Jerusalem, together with other relics that belonged honest Savior Jesus Christ.
In the Byzantine period, the Byzantine Emperor Arcadius Magi brought gifts to Constantinople. Because of the Fourth Crusade, the holy relics were taken in 1204 Nicaea, for 60 years. Emperor Michael Palaeologus bring them back to Constantinople, where they remain until 1453 d. AD.
After the fall of Constantinople, the gifts of the Magi reach sultana Mara, the daughter of Prince Serbia George Brancovici. This being conquered by the Turks, was forced to give his daughter to wife Mara Sultan Murad II. Sultan allowed him to live the Christian faith. Mara was the one that I grew up on Mehmed the Conqueror – the conqueror of Constantinople.
In 1470, sultana Mara decided to bring gifts to the monastery Athonite venerable St. Paul, who helped her through her father’s blessings repeatedly. Here he descended with her retinue port monastery, bringing with it the gifts of the Magi. About halfway between the port and the monastery Virgin Empress heard the voice saying: “Mara, Mara, do not go on, because monks live in the monastery, and you’re a woman. Here master me. “And immediately he arose before the Mother of God, who forbade him to go on and ordered to return to port, telling her that only she (Mother of God) is the queen of this place. Sultana left gifts parents monastery who had come to meet her.
Today, gold Magi was divided into 28 pendants 5-7 cm in rectangular, trapezoidal or polygonal, and frankincense, and myrrh are divided into 62 beads, like olives.
The Cave of the Nativity
Cave, almost rectangular in shape, has a length of 12 m and a width of 3m. The floor and walls are covered part of marble. Lots of candles in silver and adorned with ostrich eggs hang from the ceiling of the cave. To the east is the main Orthodox shrine, where Jesus was born child.
On the opposite side, was built Manger Shrine, where according to tradition Jesus was laid after the baby was born (Luke 2: 7). The third altar is dedicated to the Magi (Matthew 2: 1-2; 2, 11).
Cave Nativity Orthodox Divine Liturgy is served every morning, between 5: 30-7 and vespers between 14 to 16 hours.
Christ Child’s crib
Opposite the Nativity Altar, he was raised altar Manger where Jesus was laid after he was born and where Mary nursed the child Jesus. “And she brought forth his Son, begotten and L-L has a swaddled and lying in a manger, because there was no room for them.” (Luke 2: 7).
Here the shepherds came and worshiped by following the words of the angel: “Fear not. For, behold, you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. That he has been born this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in David’s city. And this is the sign: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. “(Luke 2: 10-12).
About crib has been placed baby Jesus we find the following testimony in the Gospel of Luke: “And she brought forth his Son, begotten and La swaddled and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them (…) and hurrying (shepherds) came and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. “(Luke 2, 7, 16)
Jerome tells us that Empress Helena found the little wooden swing and clothed him in silver.
In the twelfth century, when the church came into possession, the Crusaders led crib in Rome in the Church of Santa Maria Magiore.
Crystal reliquary containing a fragment of wood from the manger at Bethlehem, who was born in our Lord Jesus Christ, is today the Nativity crypt under the main altar of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Magiore.
The shrine of the Magi
The third altar in the church is holy Magi, who “came to Jerusalem, saying, Where is the king of the Jews who was born? For we saw His star in the East and have come to worship him “…” and entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him; and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh “(Matthew 2: 1-2, 11).
Orthodox and Armenians are daily services on the altar of the Nativity and the Magi that of Catholics.
About 300 m southeast of the Church of the Nativity is a chapel commonly called “Milk Grotto”. This church, dedicated to Our Lady, was built in the fifth century by St. Paula, St. Jerome apprentice.
A century old tradition VI says that here stopped Madonna with Child, St. Joseph the night that the angel was commanded to leave Bethlehem and flee to Egypt
“After their departure, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, take the child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will seek the young child to kill him. And he arose, took the night the child and his mother and went to Egypt. And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” And when Herod saw that he was deceived by the Magi, he was angry too and sending killed all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders of two years and below, after the time we had learned from the Magi. Then was fulfilled what was said through the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and wailing; Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are not. ‘ “(Matthew 2, 13-18).
When Joseph was ordered, Virgin Mary breastfeeding the baby Jesus just him. In the rush of departure, a few drops fell on the stone cave, which was turned from red to white.
Milk Grotto in the care of the Franciscan monks around the year 1347. From the old church of Saint Paula is preserved few fragments of mosaic near the entrance door. They show floral and animal made with a lot of style.
Grotto is a place of pilgrimage for women who have children and mothers Christian and especially Muslim who have enough milk to breastfeed their children. Besides prayer, the women go from this place, for medicine, the white stone dust.
The Cave of the Holy Babe Babe Martyrs
The right side of the inner courtyard of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is a door leading to the cave Holy Martyrs infancy.
In the cave under a rock wall, retained some of the relics of 14,000 children killed by Herod the Great, along with those of monks martyred by Persians in the year 614.
Near ossuary in the basement of the cave is a small chapel dedicated to infant-martyrs.
“And when Herod saw that he was deceived by the Magi, he was angry too and sending killed all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders of two years and below, after the time we had learned from the Magi . Then was fulfilled what was said through the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and wailing; Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are not ‘ “(Matthew 2: 16-18).
Christmas for us
Christmas is a perpetual recreation of the universe and the world, and each one of us. For us who have received the gift of Christ, the joy of his birth must emanate from the fact that we are children of God. If the celebration of Christmas doesn’t mean growth, suffering, death and resurrection of Emanuel for us, with us and in us, then does not mean anything, it is confident that there is nothing in what Christ asks us to do in life, It was not made by him first. All moments of his life are occasions for us near God. For this reason, Christmas is a perpetual re-creation of the universe and the world, but each of us, called to become sons of God by grace through Christ who “gave for our sins and rose again for our justification “(Romans 4, 25).